Fix loose and wiggly tripod joints.

Fixing Wiggly Tripod Legs

Tripod maintenance:
Tightening the Apex Axle Joints

Are you beginning to notice an increased amount of wiggle in your tripod legs near the apex? Do the legs pivot into the closed position with little effort, sometimes even under its own weight? Is one leg noticeably easier or harder to pivot? What you are likely experiencing is the tripod apex axle joints loosening over time. Periodically, the apex axle joints need to be serviced in order to maintain a consistent feel and minimize wiggle in the joints. To service the apex axle joints, follow this simple procedure:
Need:
  • RRS Tripod
  • 3/16″ Hex Key (2)
  • Rocket Blower
  • *Acetone
  • *Clean Rag
  • *Loctite 242

  1. 1
    Loosening the joint apex.

    Loosening the screws.

    Take two 3/16” hex wrenches or our RRS MTX and loosen the screws at one of the the axle joints. Use one hex wrench to keep the screw from spinning. Use the other hex wrench to loosen the screw on the opposite side. One screw should come off easily and the other should stay attached to the axle. The axle should remain in the tripod apex.

  2. 2
    Separated screw joints.

    Separated screw joints.

    With one screw removed, ensure no debris is inside the axle or on the screw threads. Use compressed air or a rocket blower to remove loose dust.

    *If there is grease, oil or grime on the threads of the axle or screw, use some acetone or mineral spirits on a cotton swab to clean it. Allow the solvent to completely evaporate before continuing

  3. 3
    Reinstall the screw into the axle and tighten using the 3/16” hex wrenches. Set the desired leg joint tension by adjusting the tightness of the screws. Make small adjustments until you reach your desired leg tension.
  4. 4
    Repeat this procedure for all three apex axle joints as necessary.
  5. *
    Use Loctite 242 to strengthen the joint.

    Use Loctite 242 to strengthen the joint.

    Optional: To prevent accidental adjustment of the leg tension, place a drop or two of semi-permanent thread adhesive such as Loctite 242 on the screw threads prior to reinstalling it into the axle in step 3. Note that if the threads have grease or oil on them, the thread adhesive will not be able to cure properly. Semi-permanent thread adhesive is available in most hardware stores or you can call our friendly customer service representatives here at Really Right Stuff and we would be more than happy to supply you with some.

20 Comments

  1. Stan Burman says:

    Thanks. I am having this precise problem. This helps.

  2. Daniel Levy says:

    My legs are loose, but less than a month old. I had tightened 2 separate legs independently when they became loose, today it occurred again :( – is it possible there is a bigger issue here?

    I’ll try to call you guys this week about it.

    • Jim @ RRS says:

      Hi Daniel,

      We can definitely help you get to the bottom of that. If you’ve already added Loctite to the leg angle screws, perhaps a bit more would keep them at your setting for longer.

      -Jim

  3. Bernard Chen says:

    I ordered the Loctite but not sure if that will solve the problem. My legs also came loose less than a month of owning it so I think it’s a systematic problem. I also met a guy at Columbia Gorge workshop recently and told him my problem since he had the same exact tripod as I did. By the end of the week he had the same problem, but luckily for him, I had the tools with me for him to tighten his legs. I ended up buying a Gitzo Series 3 tripod to use with my RRS head and leveling platform. I want to sell my RRS tripod but feel too bad about selling something that doesn’t work.

    • Jim @ RRS says:

      Bernard,

      It’s always a good idea to keep your hex keys with you in the field, just in case. That being said, with Loctite on the screws I’m able to keep my legs at their desired tension through months of use.

  4. art says:

    i have had my TVC-24L for over a year now – no issues. But this is great information for when or if this happens to mine. I do use it on a regular basis…

  5. Daniel Levy says:

    I just got around to applying the Loctite a few minutes ago, we’ll see how this works once it sets. I am a bit bummed to be going through this on a new tripod, but hope this solves the issue for good. Thanks for the responses – fingers crossed and hoping.

    Daniel Levy Photography

  6. Alex says:

    This never happens with my GITZO. You folks always seem to have answers as to why your products get stuck, become wiggly, close under their own weight etc. Your awful ballheads get stuck and locked and you gave some cocky answer as to how to fix this. We should not have to watch YouTube videos on how to fix our brand new $500 ballheads. I’m assuming that since your tripods are falling apart, you’re at least including FREE LOCTITE with all new tripod orders?

  7. Victor von Salza says:

    After a few years I’m having the same problem with my Gitzo GT2531 Series 2, I tighten the bolts and by the end of the day they are loose again, so I don’t think switching to Gitzo will be the long term answer. So I’m seeing this as a maintenance issue, glad to know which level of loctite to use.

  8. Chun Hsu says:

    I just bought a TVC-33 and had the same thing happen to me. One of the legs suddenly went very loose while I had a Wimberly gimbal and a 500mm lens on it. I never had this happen to me before with any other tripod and didn’t realize how dangerous it was. I was over an hour away from home, so I had no way to fix it. This occurred after owning the tripod for less than a week!

    I plan to try the Loctite, but I honestly think RRS needs to fix this. This seems like a design flaw. I have had a Gitzo 1227LVL tripod for almost 10 years and have never had to adjust the tension on the legs.

    • Jim @ RRS says:

      Hi Chun,

      In our experience it’s certainly possible for a Gitzo tripod to behave the same way – the leg tension is meant to be adjustable as a feature of the tripod, so we don’t want to set it to one spot and force you to use it there. I’m not sure if all Gitzo tripods have the ability to adjust leg tension – some might have simpler mechanisms there which are permanently installed, which would explain the long-lived consistency. We are always looking to improve the delivered features and usability of the tripod, and our customers requested the ability to adjust the tension. We also wanted you to be able to take that joint apart for maintenance and cleaning.

      If you have any further questions or concerns, please email us at info@reallyrightstuff.com and we’ll gladly assist you in any way possible. Thanks!

      Jim Weise
      Really Right Stuff
      Customer Service

  9. Chun Hsu says:

    Thanks for the explanation Jim. Do the adjustment screws have Loctite when they ship from the factory? I disassembled the loose leg and noticed a blob of something brown at the end of one of the screws. I also noticed only a little bit of the brown on the threads itself. If that is Loctite, perhaps it was not applied very well which would explain why it came loose so quickly.

    • Jim @ RRS says:

      Chun,

      I believe the brown paste is a thread-locker as well, just not the same material as the blue Loctite 242 fluid. I think the paste is probably easier for them to apply during assembly. It would be thin on the threads and excess would probably collect at the end of the screw as assembled.

      We don’t want the screws to be too permanent when customers get the tripod, as adjusting that tension to your own preference is one of the first steps you’d want to take.

  10. Motagaly says:

    Hi,

    Is this issue also happening to the new Versa 4 (new tripod released for pre-order)??

    I am considering the TVC-45 and such case will let me completely avoid it, I don’t want to be on the field and loose tension on one leg suddenly, so all my $$$ stuff would fall on the ground (if the affected leg was near to the centre for a non flat setup).

    Please advise, is the same screw design still there with the Versa 4 series?

    • Jim @ RRS says:

      Hi Motagaly,

      The TVC-45 and other Versa 4 Series tripods have the same type of leg joint, with all the same components simply produced on a larger scale. The customizable leg tension is an important feature that we felt should be maintained with the Versa 4 tripods. You will still need Loctite or Vibra-Tite to keep the same setting for long periods of time.

      If you’re concerned about loose legs allowing the tripod to tip over spontaneously, it sounds like you may be standing the tripod in precarious positions that present danger even with tense legs – the most stable position for a tripod will be with the apex relatively equidistant from each of the three feet. Bringing one of the three feet near to the apex/center line of the tripod presents a tipping danger even with tight leg joints and should be avoided if possible. A properly deployed tripod would not present any additional danger because of loose leg joints – the need for tense joints mostly matters for moving the tripod and/or ease of deployment.

      While we understand that it may not always be convenient to adjust the tension in the field, it should be possible to prevent the need to do so through proper maintenance at home and in controlled environments. With proper application and curing of Loctite at the desired tension (again, that you set as you see fit) it’s possible to have the tension of this joint remain as set for months at a time through heavy use.

      That being said, we always recommend having your hex keys with you wherever the tripod goes with you, just as you would want to keep your 5/32″ hex key or MTX on hand for your camera plates (especially those that have sliding features).

      I’m not in a position to say if this type of mechanism might change in future designs or with the existing Versa tripods in future versions.

      If you have any additional questions about this or any other topic, please feel free to email me at jim@reallyrightstuff.com.

      Thanks,

      Jim Weise
      Customer Service, Really Right Stuff

  11. Mike says:

    You people would complain if you couldn’t adjust it yourselves. I think Jim explained it, you can’t have something that is variable without maintaining it. I came across this as my leg does the same thing, but if it is so we can vary the tension of the legs then I am happy to tighten it up. I’d rather that than have a stiff as set of legs that you can’t open when you are freezing your butt off & trying to use your elbows to spread them….now to find a 2nd hex wrench :)

  12. Joe says:

    I have the TVC23 and have had one leg loosen up over time. I carry the proper tools with me when out shooting. The tires on my car cost over $2000.00 and occassionally need air. The occassional adjustment doesn’t bother me. At least RRS supplies the tools to do the adjustments when needed.

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